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Panel bans bear hunting in Lake Tahoe basin
by Martin Griffith - Associated Press
Mar 24, 2012 | 1252 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RENO (AP) — State wildlife commissioners voted Saturday to prohibit black bear hunting on the Nevada side of the Lake Tahoe basin.

The move was approved on a 6-3 vote after many Tahoe residents said it was needed to prevent conflicts with hikers, mountain bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Under the wildlife commission’s action, the activity also will be prohibited in certain high-use areas around the Carson Range’s Mt. Rose and Galena areas just outside the Tahoe basin.

But bear hunting still will be allowed in other areas of western Nevada, including the Stillwater, Pine Nut and Wassuk ranges.

Kathryn Bricker of praised the wildlife commission’s action, saying it will give greater peace of mind to recreation users during hunting season.

But she said her Tahoe-based group will continue to fight for an end to the bear hunt in Nevada. She cited independent scientists who say the nation’s most arid state lacks enough bears to sustain the hunt.

“The commission listened to the public on this specific issue, but not to the public’s overwhelming opposition to the bear hunt,” Bricker told The Associated Press. “But we appreciate that the commission listened to the public on this particular item and think it’s a good start.”

When the wildlife commission approved the bear hunt last year, biologists estimated the state was home to 200 to 300 black bears, with most concentrated in the Carson Range and in and around the Tahoe basin.

County wildlife advisory boards and other sportsmen groups had urged the commission not to change bear hunting boundaries.

Nevada Department of Wildlife spokeswoman Teresa Moiola said there were no reports of conflicts between hunters and other users at Tahoe or elsewhere during the state’s inaugural bear hunt last year when 14 bruins were killed.

There also were no bears killed in the Tahoe basin during the initial hunt.

“The commission took into consideration comments from different user groups,” Moiola said. “They wanted to draw hunting boundaries in a way that addressed the concerns.”

Wildlife commissioners will set hunting quotas for bears in May.

A group of Native Americans also joined the fight against Nevada’s black bear hunt and criticizing what they call a wildlife official’s racist remark about it.

The group complained about a comment made at a Washoe County wildlife advisory board meeting last week by its chairman, Rex Flowers.

Flowers told the group of about eight Paiute, Washoe and Shoshone tribal members he didn’t want to “hear of bows and arrows” because his panel was committed to the bear hunt, said Raquel Arthur, spokeswoman for the northern Nevada chapter of the American Indian Movement. Arthur also was personally insulted by being addressed as “sir” at the meeting, she said.

“We were offended. It was racist, pure and simple,” Arthur said.

Flowers declined to comment Friday.

Opponents of the state’s bear hunt called Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office to complain about the remarks.

“The comments are not reflective of the governor’s position,” Sandoval spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner said Friday. “If remarks like this were made, he believes they are offensive and have no place in public or private discourse, and Mr. Flowers owes an apology.”

Randal Massaro, spokesman for Union Members for the Preservation of Wildlife, said Flowers phoned this week and apologized for the remarks.

“He stated in no way did he ever mean to insult, degrade or disrespect Native Americans ... and (he) would be more than happy to make a public apology to them and anyone else that took the (bow and arrow) comment the wrong way,” Massaro said.

Someone else made a comment that bears would be shot with AK-47 assault rifles, said Massaro, who helped coordinate Native American opposition to the bear hunt.

“We believe bears are sacred,” Arthur said, adding her group thinks the state’s black bear population is insufficient to sustain a hunt.

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